OTTAWA -- Former Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray was praised by his players Monday for what he meant to them on and off the ice.
Murray, 73, ended his 35-year run as a coach or general manager in the NHL on Sunday when he stepped aside as the team's general manager after nine seasons and handed the job to assistant Pierre Dorion.
Murray, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in July 2014, said he was stepping down for family and health reasons. He will continue as senior advisor to Dorion.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade by Murray in February 2011, grew emotional when asked about Murray stepping down and Dorion taking over.
"Pierre's been here quite a while in the assistant's role so for him to take over there shouldn't be too much of a transition," Anderson said. "I just want to thank Bryan for everything he's done for us as a group, as an individual. He's a reason why I'm here and the reason why a lot of guys are here. Many thanks from the bottom of my heart for everything he's done for me."
When asked about the transition from Murray to Dorion, more than one player started his answer by talking about their personal relationship with Murray.
"First of all, he's an incredible person," center Kyle Turris said, who was acquired by Murray from the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman David Rundblad and a 2012 second round draft pick in 2011.
"He's just a very nice, down to earth kind person you can just talk to and have a good conversation about life. Then, he's so passionate about hockey and so knowledgeable. I can't thank him enough for the opportunity he gave me by bringing me here. It changed my career and ultimately my life. I can't thank him enough. I'll always owe him for that," Turris said.
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Defenseman Marc Methot, a native of Ottawa, got the opportunity to play at home when Murray traded forward Nick Foligno to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Methot in July 2012.
"He'll be missed. I've got a soft spot for Bryan," said Methot. "He's the reason why I came in here. I think he's the reason I was traded to Ottawa. You've got to root for a guy like him who's been battling through all kinds of adversity and still able to come in and work and do his job during the season. He'll be missed, but again, we're falling into good hands."
Dorion, 43, has been with the Senators for nine years and was named an assistant general manager in January 2014.
"You cannot be around this man and not feel the passion he has for others. I wouldn't be standing up here without the support of Bryan and I wouldn't have taken this job without his approval," Dorion said Sunday when he took over as general manager.
Murray ranks 14th in the League in games coached (1,239) and is 11th in wins (620). He coached the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and the Senators.
In addition to the Senators, he was general manager of the Red Wings, Panthers and Anaheim Ducks. The Panthers (1996) and Ducks (2003) advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
Murray was hired as the Senators fifth coach on June 8, 2004. He had a 107-55-20 record and guided the Senators to their only appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, losing to the Ducks in five games. He was named Senators general manager in the summer of 2007.
In his nine seasons as general manager, the Senators made the Stanley Cup Playoffs five times, advancing to the second round in 2013.